Cannabis reform is booming in Italy. A ballot campaign launched by several pro-cannabis organizations and political parties in the country last week earned the required 500,000 signatures to continue down the road to cannabis decriminalization.
The campaign needed to gather at least 500,000 supporting signatures by Sept. 30 in order to qualify for a popular referendum, in which Italian citizens vote “Yes” or “No” for decriminalizing cannabis cultivation for personal use. However, the signatures must first be verified by the Supreme Court of Cassation, as well as the Constitutional Court must assess whether the referendum question is constitutional.
The proposed legal reform will decriminalize the purchase, sale, and cultivation of cannabis, CNN reports. Medical cannabis use is permitted, and Italy initially decriminalized recreational cannabis consumption in 1993, but those who buy, sell, or mass cultivate cannabis currently face up to 10 years in prison.
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Pro-legalization groups claim that this reform will “put an end to unnecessary trials for small amounts of the drug and ensure that patients who use it to relieve their excruciating pain will never have to face a court again.” They also positioned the creation of thousands of jobs as well as increased tax revenues as incentives for changing the law. According to Forbes, illicit cannabis sales have earned organized crime networks 6.3 billion Euros a year.
Campaign organizers are continuing to obtain signatures before submitting the referendum proposal. Should the proposal make it through all the legal hoops, cannabis will be more accessible than ever before for Italy’s estimated 6 million recreational users. The country continues to have a more liberal stance on cannabis compared to other members of the European Union.
Recently, #referendumcannabis was trending in Italy. A message from the Facebook page leading the charge thanked supporters for their efforts, stating, “So with a smile we will continue to share, explain, take to the streets and discuss because we know perfectly well what we want—legal cannabis and an Italy free from the mafia!”
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